Much of the training that used to be done in person is giving way to the web. As with any new form of presentation media, there are ways to stand out from the crowd, and here they are.
1) Barricade yourself. During your online presentation, ensure that absolutely nobody can intrude upon your space. No phones, no beepers, no buzzers, nobody knocking on the door. No extraneous sound whatsoever. This is necessary for two reasons. The first, of course, is so that those sounds don’t make their way onto the program itself. The second, and perhaps the most important reason is that you need the security of knowing that you can proceed for the duration of the presentation without fear of interruption.
2) Use a telephone headset for more fluid motion, a reduced potential for fatigue, and the freedom to shift positions easily. If you don’t or can’t use a headset, make sure that you have a comfortable chair, plenty of desk space and room to maneuver. Despite any audiovisual associated with your presentation, your voice is the make-or-break factor in determining whether someone will stay with the program, or fiddle with something else.
3) Be at your best. You need to get a good night’s sleep, have a well-rested voice and eat a balanced meal. Also, prepare a cup of tea or whatever comforts you so that you can sparkle when presenting in this medium. Listeners can tell when you are not well rested, when you are under-nourished, when your energy is down, when you are rushing and when your voice is getting fatigued. They would prefer not to hear these things at all.
4) Arrange your working materials accordingly—in advance. Yes, you already know this, but it is too important to leave out. You don’t want to be shuffling through papers or other documents when you need to be giving your complete and undivided attention to your phone connection and to the people who will be listening to you on the other end. Lay out your materials no later than 10 minutes beforehand.
5) Mentally rehearse your entire presentation. No matter how many times you’ve given it, either to a live audience, or in some other medium, the dynamics of web-based presentations are different. You might be working with a host or interviewer who helps you along with questions, prompts and other useful gestures. Whether or not this is so, you want to be prepared to deliver your best.
6) Visualize your audience. Who are they? Where are they? As with a live audience, and well before your webcast, your mission is to find out as much about them as possible. What kind of environment do they work in? What are their challenges? What are they hoping to learn from your session? If you don’t know the answers to these questions—and most of them are not readily apparent in this presentation medium—then your work is cut out for you.
7) Orchestrate your presentation. Where are the highs and where are the lows? Where do you want to have your audience enthralled? Where are you simply presenting bulleted items in a matter-of-fact kind of manner? Where will you make dramatic pauses? Where will you speak excitedly? Your goal at all times is to be as informative and as entertaining as possible.
8) Prepare for questions in advance. Most online programs allow for participant questions in real time. You can’t always anticipate what is going to be asked, but there is quite a bit that you can anticipate. What do people ask when you make presentations at conferences and conventions? Chances are some of the same types of concerns will arise here. Welcome and encourage questions—answering participants’ questions might prove to be valuable to you and to your participants.
9) Prepare for your close. Even if you have a Q&A session scheduled near the end of your presentation, pull back on the reins and have at least a two-minute-long close prepared. As with an onsite audience, people need a sense of closure, and the best way to ensure this is by preparing. Occasionally, someone will ask a question that can be used for your close, but you can’t count on it.
10) End on time. Your participants, online facilitator and the conference host are counting on you to stick to the schedule. They might have other items scheduled directly after yours. They certainly have their own personal agendas. Participants and providers remember those presenters/speakers who went over the allotted time; they appreciate those who end on time.